Microbiology, Immunology & Physiology
As a department, our contribution to Meharry’s mission involves the understanding of the molecular basis and mechanisms of pathogenesis and immunity of infectious diseases that disproportionally affect African-American and other disadvantaged populations.
To this end, we use a wide array of approaches and techniques to explore the realm of molecular biology, microbial physiology, virology, parasitology, immunology, and microbial pathogenesis. As a result, faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and staff have discovered new mechanisms of intracellular pathogen infection, including HIV, other pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and protozoan parasites such trypanosomes and Leishmania.
Members of the department have also discovered new pathogen molecules; new host factors that play critical roles in infection of intracellular pathogens; and new molecules that are essential for pathogen survival which represent new targets for drug development to improve the treatment of diseases that had no previous effective treatments.
Our research has also led to the discovery of new small molecules that inhibit HIV replication, and new therapeutics to treat HIV infection; this work has led to the use of new drugs that affect prime targets for intervention in parasitic organisms to cure diseases with no previous effective drugs for the chronic phases.
All faculty members in the department perform research and teach. Students benefit from their dual roles, as exciting new discoveries and hypotheses are presented in real-time. Our distinguished cadre of scientists benefit from their rigorous research, too, having published in high-impact journals such Nature, Nature Cell Biology, Science, Cell, to name a few.
Our Physiology teaching is designed to introduce future health care providers and biomedical scientists to the structure and function of the human body—pertinent, foundational information for all future education, practice, and research endeavors.
Research on Chagas disease was selected as the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre’s “Biomedical Picture of the Day.” Meharry’s Chair of Microbiology and Immunology, Fernando Villalta, Ph.D., is one of the corresponding authors of the published research. Learn More